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If your family loves to go berry picking like mine does, you are likely going to end up with baskets full of of luscious red strawberries, raspberries, or juicy blueberries. This recipe for strawberry preserves will work for any type of berry. It is easy, […]
These pumpkin spice muffins are just the fix you are searching for when the cozy season beckons. Sweet and creamy pumpkin puree that I make from scratch marries the warm, aromatic spices that scent the air with fall deliciousness. The cake of this muffin is perfectly moist and big on flavor. Topped with toasted pumpkin seeds or my creamy brown butter maple frosting, these will be a treat for all to indulge.
My secret to a rich, deep, pumpkin flavor is actually… butternut squash! Butternut squash is otherwise known as butternut pumpkin in some countries- so I’m not really deviating from pumpkin muffins. The typical round orange sugar pumpkin that is so prevalent in the United States is great for adding moisture to many baked goods, but really, over the years I have found an inconsistent flavor that yearns for more sweetness and creamy texture. So, using all natural and clean ingredients to amplify the flavor, I roast some butternut squash, along with a pie pumpkin. I use 1 part pumpkin and 1 part butternut squash and the texture and flavor is PERFECTION. The butternut squash is sweet, creamy, and has some underlying butterscotch notes which complement the lacking flavor and watery texture of pumpkin. When whipped together with sugar, eggs, and oil… the squashes provide the perfect base for these muffins.
Pumpkin and butternut squash are highly nutritious. They are both high in antioxidants vitamins E and C, and as indicated by their deep orange hues, they are highest in beta-carotene (vitamin A). These vitamins are essential for healthy skin and nails, improved eye sight, preventing diseases, and even prevents aging of your skin. Even more important to me and my little ones at home, pumpkins and butternut squash are high in fiber, which is excellent for improving digestive health such as preventing constipation and reducing the risk for digestive cancers or diabetes.
Hey, I am not claiming these muffins will save your life :), but these are no ordinary muffin. These muffins are also easily adaptable as a healthy breakfast muffin for your family. Simply cut the sugar down a bit, and mix in some flaxseeds, oats, hemp seeds, nuts, cranberries, dark chocolate chunks, or raisins to the recipe (see recipe notes below). You can truly make these how you like! I LOVE pumpkin and chocolate.
For that warm sultry spice combination, I mix a generous amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The ginger and cloves give a very nice balance to the sweetness of the cinnamon and squash. Using high quality and the correct type of ingredients is important for great flavor and results. I use Vietnamese cinnamon with 4.5% oil because it has a stronger flavor excellent for baking, which you can both smell and taste as you bite into the muffin. This is the best cinnamon to use in baking. It is both sweet and spicy and adds such warmth and depth, to the flavors of this pumpkin muffin. For the sugar, definitely use dark brown sugar. It has deeper notes of maple syrup goodness. Dark brown sugar also holds more moisture and is more acidic which means it will react with the baking soda to make a nice fluffy muffin.
These muffins can also be made into an ultra decadent treat. I recently made these muffins, frosted with brown butter icing for my daughter’s birthday treat in class and it was a big hit!
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
- 2 1/2 c flour cake flour HIGHLY recommended
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp all spice
- 2 c mashed pumpkin (baked then scooped out)
- 1 c mashed butternut squash (baked then scooped out)
- 1 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 c olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 c dark chocolate chips or cranberries or nuts OPTIONAL
For the icing
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 c dark brown sugar
- 2-3 c powdered sugar
- 6 tbsp softened butter or creamcheese
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (F). Slice open the pumpkin and butternut squash, remove seeds, and place facedown on a pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork. Remove and allow to cool or store in the refrigerator until ready to bake (up to 3 days). Reduce temperature to 350 F.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and all the spices.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer add the mashed pumpkin and squash and sugars. Mix until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla powder. Mix well (about 1 minute).
- Add the oil and mix until smooth (about 1 minute)
- Slowly fold in the flour mixture, careful not over mix.
- Add in any optional mix-ins you choose such as nuts, chocolate, oats, at this step.
- With a scoop, fill the cavities of a cupcake pan or muffin pan.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The tops should puff up and be firm in the center.
For the icing
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a small pot over medium heat. Move the butter around until it begins to brown and smell toasty.
- Stir in the brown sugar. Simmer for about 3 minutes on low-medium heat, without scorching. Set aside and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- In a standing mixer, sift together 2 cups of powdered sugar with the whisk attachment. On medium speed, slowly add in the 6 tbsp pf soft butter or cream cheese and maple syrup.
- Slowly pour in the butter and brown sugar mixture. Slowly add in some of the last cup of powdered until you have achieved the thickness of icing desired. Keep in mind, the frosting/icing will further harden once the melted butter cools to room temperature.
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Ful mudammas (pronounced f-ool, rhyming with pool or tool, but why would I spell it like that, or foul?!) is a vegetarian dish that is a staple food item in Egypt. It is the national dish of Egypt. You cannot go to Egypt without trying ful at least several times. It is eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but most often as breakfast. Ful is the name of the broad bean used in Arabic and Mudammas in Arabic literally means “buried in the pot” as this dish is meant to simmer away for hours, allowing the vegetables and spices to build a deep medley of flavor. The flavorful stew of fava beans with spices, lemon, garlic, and olive oil thickens up into a delicious mixture that may be wrapped up into a pita sandwich, scooped up with little pieces of pita bread or chips, or even eaten straight out of the bowl with a spoon. This hearty dish consists of cooked fava beans and chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, spices, and a variety of fresh chopped toppings such as tomato, green onions, and parsley.Unlike most recipes for ful you will find, this does not originate from a can. In fact, many people are a little intimidated as to how to get the dried hard little beans to that infamous “mudammas” phase quoted so perfectly on the can. If you set aside one nice afternoon to do this, you can prepare enough ful and freeze it for later to last you a couple of months! You also get to control exactly what spices, flavors, and herbs are going in, and it’s preservative free 🙂 Two cheers for clean eating!
You can find the dried brown fava beans at any Arabic market, and most international markets. Make sure it is the small, brown bean, with a black mark on top. Do not get peeled, green, or the large fava beans because those are used in different dishes. I actually find my fava beans from the bulk bins at Whole Foods; they are organic and from a local farm. I cook about a pound at a time, which makes about 4-5 family sized (serving 4) portions or 10 single portions. So I estimate at least the equivalent of about 10 cans of ful. You want to wash and sort the beans. Because I love adding chick peas to my ful, I usually pressure cook a cup of chickpeas first, before the fava, for about 60 minutes. I set these aside while the ful is cooking. The kids LOVE eating the cooked chickpeas, plain with nothing added! What a perfectly healthy and fun snack for the kids! Simply cook the fava beans in a pressure cooker with water, onions, and garlic (no salt, it inhibits the cooking) for 45-60 minutes. There is no need to soak the beans overnight when you use a pressure cooker. Once the beans have cooked soft, I uncover the pressure top and continue to simmer the stew for another hour or so, this time with the addition of spices, olive, oil, lemon, onions, more garlic, and salt. We are getting those beans mudammas, or buried in flavor!
Once the beans are nicely tender and deliciously infused with the garlic, onion, cumin, and lemon, you can prepare it for being served. First, I take the extra batches and portion them into glass storage containers to freeze for later. When I am ready to serve it, I give it a light mashing (some people completely puree it), add olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, a drizzle of tahini, some cooked chick peas, chopped tomatoes, parsley, and scallions. The dish is served warm with pita bread. Ful mudammas in our family is often served for breakfast along side some small plates of hard boiled eggs, falafel, cheeses, olives, pastrami, pickled turnips, and refreshing slices of cucumber.
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Fava beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, and this healthy recipe is quite filling and has minimal fat. It is an excellent and favorite meal for suhoor, which is a meal Muslims eat in early dawn before the daytime fast begins. Once you taste a batch of freshly stewed homemade ful, you will never go back to cans! Once you go scratch, you’ll never go back 😉
- 1 lb of dried brown fava beans
- 10 cups of water
- 1 yellow onion, cut in half
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- (optional) 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, reserve some for garnish
- (optional) 1/4 cup tahini paste OR 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 c fresh squeezed lemon juice (no lemon juice if cooking in tomato sauce)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 green onion or scallion, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, reserve some for garnish
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and sort the fava beans.
- Place beans into a pressure cooker, add the onion and garlic, and cover with 10-12 cups of water. Cook on high pressure for at least 60 minutes. Do not add salt, as it inhibits cooking.
- Once the beans are cooked soft, you can remove the lid and add the spices and additional diced garlic and onions, lemon juice, and olive oil. Simmer for another 30-60 minutes, until the beans are very tender and flavorful.
- Portion the cooked beans into storage containers or ziplocs and freeze; be sure to store it with some of the cooking liquid. If you will add cooked chickpeas, you can place them in the container and freeze them with the fava beans. When you are ready to serve the beans you simply can pour them into a pot to reheat it and add the final toppings.
- Simmer 1 cup of stewed fava beans with the tahini OR tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup of cooked chick peas, over medium-high heat. If there is not enough liquid with the beans, add 1/4 c water to prevent drying out the beans. Remove from heat after 5 minutes, or after most liquid is absorbed.
- If you like you beans softened, as Egyptians do, this is the time to mash them gently with a fork or masher. Some people even puree it smooth, but we definitely like some texture and chunky beans. After mashing the beans, add the lemon juice (omit if you are cooking in tomato sauce), chopped tomato, onions, garlic, and parsley. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Toss lightly.
- Garnish with the remaining chickpeas and parsley on top, and drizzle remaining olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread.
- If you will serve the fava beans simmered in tomato sauce, you will omit the lemon juice because the tomato sauce provides enough acidity. You can add a dash of lemon or vinegar if you prefer.
- The flavor with the tahini or the tomato sauce make for two very different dishes. Try them both!
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